Category Archives: life

Be not afraid

Be not afraid to…
…live your life on your own morals.
…let others live their life on theirs, so long as they do not harm others.
…be alone.
…share your heart.
…show compassion and empathy.
…speak your mind.
…let others speak theirs and, more importantly, to listen when they do.
…make decisions that scare you and force you to grow.
…forgive yourself, most especially when you don’t think you can or should.
…show your love to those you care about, openly and earnestly.
…pick someone up when they are down.
…let someone else pick you up.
…help when you can, how you can, with no expectation beyond the recipient paying it forward – if they so choose to.
…be yourself and, as a result, keep only those around that accept you.
…live, love, embrace and share joy, laugh, and burn fiercely in your passion, because we never know when the ride will end but it will always be before we are ready.

On Guilt

I haven’t posted in a long time. I’m going to try posting interesting essays / thoughts I find in my “On This Day” on Facebook. We’ll see how well they do and/or how long I bother.

With no further ado, on guilt:

Guilt is a powerful emotion. It’s a form of self evaluation in which we introspectively criticize ourselves for past actions. Guilt is interesting in that it’s self applied. While others can influence our movement towards in inherently we must assign it to ourselves for it to have meaning.

So what is the meaning of Guilt? It’s a learning tool. When we feel Guilty about something mainly it’s because we feel that a past action was not handled in a way which we are proud of. We feel that we could have done something more or different and changed the course that we’re on now. It’s Potential – we feel Guilt because we surmise that by changing that action we’d be on a better course than we are now or a better person for doing more – even if it didn’t change the eventual outcome.

The main problem with Guilt is that although it is a learning mechanism it is also potentially crippling. It’s hard to release Guilt, hard to move past it. That same Guilt which we should learn from can cloud future Decisions and cascade into further Guilt.

So how do we handle Guilt? We don’t shy from it – we learn from it. We don’t let drive us – we let it guide us. We forgive ourselves – even if we don’t want to. Even if it’s seemingly impossible. Because in the end though we can learn and though we can made different Decisions in the future we can’t change the Past – it’s inherently immutable. The longer we hold Guilt the more powerful and damaging it becomes. As disheartening as it is we must remember that we are not perfect – for if we were, what a boring would it would be. Our mistakes, follies, misjudgments and failings make this World someplace that’s worth residing it. It’s the payment we must make, Guilt, sometimes for being imperfect.

In the end Forgiving ourselves might be our greatest act of Charity.

Life happens

I have not blogged in a long time. Mostly this is due to a combination of procrastination and a sense that anything I did wish to say about the industry – HTML5, CSS3, vendor prefixes, progressive enhancement, responsive design, etc – was being said better by someone with far more reason to listen to then myself.

I’ve come to two realizations. One is that even if I reiterate some points that others make – specifically by attributing them – that it’s beneficial as it shows and builds my understanding of the issue as well as – by attribution and, therefore, SEO – strengthens the views expressed by the “giants” of my industry. Second is that sometimes it’s ok to “remove the mask” and show the human side. Reading the blogs of my peers and mentors has shown that they have a willingness to showcase not just industry knowledge. Through this I’ve gained an appreciation for both the person and their skill as well as a better understanding of them as a whole.

This second realization is what I wish to touch on today as the last year saw two life defining moments for me.

The first was one many here in the US felt. For almost 5 years I was the sole and principal UI developer for Helium. My code still exists everywhere on their site. Last July I lost my position with Helium.

For many, especially myself, we are defined by our jobs. First because in having a career it validates us to have a job. It shows that a company trusts our skill enough to validate us by paying us to do something we love. Something we do on our own – often without compensation. Second because it gives us purpose. Having a job is a responsibility – a reason to get up every morning, get in our car, and drive to an office. We have responsibilities to our fellow developers and to our users – something that all (good) developers feel and are motivated by.

Fortunately, in my case, this was actually a good thing. At the end of my time with Helium I was spending a good portion of my week working from home and sleeping very little. This was because I was spending most of my hours as the primary caretaker for my dad who was under hospice care. On August 3, 2011 we lost Dad.

Dad had suffered a stroke and heart attack back in 2004 and almost died then. He was never the same after the stroke but he was living and happy – and that was good enough. For the year or so before he passed Dad had been acting erratically. We didn’t realize how serious it was until he ended up going into the hospital in May and they told us. We had a scare in June and then in the beginning of July, after much cajoling – as Dad was always stubborn – we convinced him to move in with me so I could take care of him.

Losing Dad was difficult. However, in the eulogy I talked about something my Faith has taught me – seeing the blessing even in the bad. Losing someone I was close to changed my perspective on life. Different things are important to me now. I don’t worry so much about things that aren’t worth worrying about. While I falter sometimes – as we all do – for the most part I know to focus on what is really important and not to let the small things in life get me down. I’ve learned to count my blessings. For that part of it, I’m thankful.

Doesn’t anyone just need a UI Developer anymore?

So in light of the fact that I maybe be unemployed soon due to circumstances beyond my control I’ve started to reacquaint myself with the job market and the jobs that I might be qualified for.  It’s been an interesting experience to say the least.  Unfortunately, there seems to be two prevailing job types:

  • Marketing position – involves either designing e-mail campaigns include HTML e-mails, which are not fun at all, or some sort of SEO / social networking skills to drive traffic to the site.
  • Jack of all trades – involves 7+ years experience in design (Adobe Suite), front end (XHTML & CSS), middleware (PHP, Java, Ruby, etc) and MySql.  Basically able to design web applications from the ground up.

So, I don’t know.  Maybe I’m looking with the wrong terms or in the wrong places?  Doesn’t anyone just need a good UI developer nowadays?  I mean I have excellent XHTML and CSS skills.  I can design for cross browser compatibility.  I can quickly turn design flats / mocks / comps into UI code.  I’m learning quickly when it comes to design skills (Adobe Suite) and I have a Commercial Arts background – granted it was in high school but I studied art and drew art by hand for 4 years.  I’m willing and eager to take on the design part of the UI – something I haven’t been able to do in my previous positions.  I have some Javascript – including Prototype and jQuery – skills and would be interested in eager to take on more with regards to the UI aspect of these (effects, etc) although not really the parts that go more into middleware (form handling, etc).  I have some middleware capabilities as they pertain to the UI – logic checks, loops, role checks, variable insertion, etc in Ruby, ColdFusion and PHP – as well as experience building on the WordPress framework in PHP.  I have experience in SEO including crafting with web standards and internal linking strategy to maximize organic SEO as well as instructing a user base on social networking strategies to grow inbound links.  Finally, I have experience working with and educating a large user base as well as identifying usability issues for that user base in future design features.

So, being a realist, I have to assume the deficiency is with me.  However, I’ve worked for two separate professional organizations and both needed someone that was only a subset of what I’m looking to take on.  So is there no middle ground?  Can you only do the icing or the whole cake?  I hope not.

The main issue lies in that to be a good UI developer you have to focus on the changing field.  New browsers are released every year and updates are made.  You have to be aware of what bugs exist in major browsers – especially Microsoft ones – and understand quickly how to fix the rendering issues in those.  You also have it identify web trends (web 2.0 design, AJAX integration, etc) and include them in beautiful and usable designs. By broadening focus too much – to middleware or backend development – you lose the ability to do that.  I realize you don’t want to be too specialized but I feel crafting a beautiful design, coding it with web standards and cross browser capability in mind, and inserting any jQuery effects that add to it is a pretty big slice of the pie, so to speak.

Also, design and UI work is more artistic versus middleware / backend which is much more logical and analytical.  So it’s very difficult to be of those two minds.  I just feel expanding the focus to that is going to dilute the whole output.  Finally, it really is of no interest to me to design controllers or write queries so I feel my output would not be as useful or good as something I’m passionate about like the front end.

So I don’t know what the answer is.  But I’m discouraged moving forward.  It does make me wish I had taken more time to grow my freelance portfolio as this would be the perfect time to make that jump and see if I could make it on that.  Unfortunately, it’s just not an option.

Advice or insight welcome.